The Pulse: May 27, 2024

Here's what you need to know about Edmonton today.

Sponsored by:

Want this in your inbox? Sign up to get The Pulse by email. It's free!


  • 21°C: Sunny. Becoming a mix of sun and cloud near noon. High 21. UV index 6 or high. (forecast)
  • Red: The High Level Bridge will be lit red for Menstrual Health Day. (details)
  • 1-3: The Edmonton Oilers lost to the Dallas Stars in Game 2 of the third round of the NHL playoffs on May 25. (details)
  • 6:30pm: The Oilers host the Stars at Rogers Place for Game 3. (details)

An architectural rendering of a multi-family housing development.

New city team aims to accelerate housing construction

By Stephanie Swensrude

The City of Edmonton has established a housing action team with the goal of scaling up investment in affordable housing and accelerating construction.

Thousands of employees work for the city, and given the multifaceted nature of the housing supply crisis, almost all of them work on initiatives that have to do with housing, said the Housing Action Team's director, Christel Kjenner, on Episode 265 of Speaking Municipally. The team convenes the different city departments that help increase housing supply, namely the social development and urban planning branches.

"What we're working to try to bring together is both sides of that housing spectrum and to have a bigger, more holistic picture. We can't do something that impacts housing supply without impacting the whole continuum of housing, whether it's non-market affordable housing or market housing," Kjenner said. "How do we bring that together and think about what steps are necessary to level up our effort across the board?"

Kjenner said the team is working on reducing costs for developers to incentivize more construction. New developments often require upgraded infrastructure. In greenfield developments, that infrastructure can be divided among the dozens of new homes going up, but for an infill project, upgrades can be prohibitively expensive, Kjenner said. The team is looking at a fund that would facilitate cost-sharing among infill developments.

New developments require a fire assessment, where Edmonton Fire Rescue Services calculates how much water comes out of the nearest fire hydrant and if it is sufficient for a planned development. If it's not, the developer is responsible for upgrades. But Kjenner said EFRS has reevaluated standards to see if they are relevant to the type of buildings that are being constructed now.

"They've created this alternative process so that if you've been told you need to have a fire hydrant or upgrade the amount of water for fire water to your site, it's possible that actually just (using sprinklers) will solve it," she said.

Administration is also working to automate the fire assessment process using geospatial technology, though EFRS will still review applications during the development permit stage.

Council voted last February to phase out the tax subclass for multi-unit residential buildings. Properties with four or more dwelling units under one owner are taxed 15% higher than other properties. "Over the next three years, we're phasing out that differential so that it will just be taxed at the same rate as other residential," Kjenner said. "You can see how if you have a higher tax rate, that's going to disincentivize investment in multi-unit housing, which is exactly what we need."

Continue reading

Headlines: May 27, 2024

By Mariam Ibrahim

Proposed districts in the City of Edmonton's district policy.

On the agenda: District planning, Horse Hill, Belvedere

By Stephanie Swensrude

This week, Edmonton's city council will hear from the public on district planning, and debate rezoning applications.

There is a regular public hearing scheduled for May 27 and a multi-day public hearing on district planning scheduled starting on May 28.

Here are key items on the agenda:

  • The district policy and district plans, city planning documents that are meant to shape the way the city grows to a population of two million, are scheduled to be debated starting on May 28. The city is encouraging Edmontonians to share their thoughts on the proposed plans and has even designed posters and postcards for residents to spread the word about the public hearing. The plans have been in the works since the city council of 2020 approved the City Plan. Specifically, the district plans are meant to get the city closer to two goals: to add 50% of new housing units through infill and to have 50% of trips made by transit and active modes, while ensuring Edmontonians can easily access their daily needs within a 15-minute walk, roll, or transit trip. In the draft district policy, there are 15 districts, each with nodes and corridors that are meant to see varying levels of housing density and a mix of uses built as the city grows. Nodes are urban centres that serve multiple neighbourhoods, such as the University of Alberta or Capilano Mall. Corridors are prominent thoroughfares, and include much of Whyte Avenue, Stony Plain Road, and 137 Avenue, for example. There are primary corridors and secondary corridors. If council votes for a first and second reading of the district policy, it will go to the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board for review. The plans would then return to council for a final vote, which is scheduled for early fall. If approved, the plans will come into effect immediately.
  • Administration is proposing changes to the area structure plan within the Marquis neighbourhood, a parcel of land in the far northeast Horse Hill neighbourhood. The current plan included a future LRT station, but administration wants to relabel it as a "mass transit station" to allow the option of bus-based rapid transit in the future. The proposed plan would reduce the size of the commercial centre planned for the neighbourhood and increase the amount of lower-density residential forms, the city said. Administration said if the new plan is approved, fewer people than desired will be living and working in the neighbourhood. The city expects the number of jobs and/or people per hectare to be about 135 with the new plan, which is below the desired minimum of 150. However, the city said once development progresses and mass transit is introduced to the area, the minimum desired density may be met. Also, the developer has planned to move the transit centre to a different location that is isolated and less integrated into the community, presenting possible safety concerns, the city said. Administration asked the developer to move the transit centre somewhere else, but the developer said no. The changes are scheduled to be debated at a public hearing on May 27.
  • Scheffer Andrew is applying to rezone vacant land in Belvedere to build a six-storey building. The lot is currently zoned for up to 20 storeys. The property is near Fort Road and 66 Street NW and abuts an existing six-storey building. Administration supports the application as the lot is near transit and commercial opportunities. There is insufficient access to fire protection adjacent to the property, and the city said the developer will be responsible for all costs associated with supplying water. The rezoning is scheduled to be reviewed at a public hearing on May 27.

Meetings stream live on YouTube on the Chamber channel and River Valley Room channel.

Image: Council is set to debate the district policy and 15 district plans starting May 28. (City of Edmonton)

A title card that reads Taproot Edmonton Calendar:

Happenings: May 27, 2024

By Debbi Serafinchon

Here are some events happening today in the Edmonton area.

And here are some upcoming events to keep in mind:

Visit the beta version of the Taproot Edmonton Calendar for many more events in the Edmonton region.